Vince Lombardi is the greatest coach in the history of the Green Bay Packers and in the history of the NFL. In nine seasons with the Packers, Lombardi compiled an 89-29-4 regular-season record and never had a losing season. His team went an incredible 9-1 in postseason play and won five championships in seven years including the first two Super Bowls.
Even now, 52 years after Lombardi’s death in 1970, no team has won three straight championships since the NFL introduced playoffs in 1933 except for Lombardi’s teams that accomplished that feat in 1965, 1966 and 1967.
Lombardi was a tough task master but he also created a camaraderie and winning attitude among his players that helped them succeed on and off the football field.
But which of Lombardi’s nine Packers teams was the best? Here is a ranking of all nine of Lombardi’s Packers teams from worst to best.
- 1959 Record: 7-5-0
Lombardi took over a team that went 1-10-1 in 1958 and turned them around to a winning record in his first season as coach.
The Packers were a streaky team, winning their first three games, then losing five straight before finishing with four straight wins to close the season in third place with a six-win improvement over the prior season.
Lombardi started the season with Lamar McHan as his starting quarterback but Bart Starr took over and started the final five games and won four of them.
Paul Hornung led the NFL in scoring with 94 points in 12 games and Lombardi was named Coach of the Year.
- 1964 Record: 8-5-1
The Packers failed to make the playoffs for the second year in a row under Lombardi in 1964 in a frustrating, second-place season.
Paul Hornung returned from his season-long suspension from the previous year, but his kicking was off and he made just 12-of-38 field goals or just 31.6 percent of his kicks. Three of the Packers five losses were by three points or less and reliable kicking could have been the difference.
Fullback Jim Taylor gained 1,169 yards on the ground and scored 12 rushing touchdowns. Bart Starr led the NFL in passing yardage with 2,144.
The Packers still had six Pro Bowl selections with Herb Adderley, Willie Davis, Forrest Gregg, Ray Nitschke, Jim Taylor and Willie Wood all qualifying.
This disappointing season made Lombardi more determined to return his team to the NFL Championship Game after missing out two straight years.
- 1960 Record: 8-4-0, Lost NFL Championship Game
Lombardi’s team won the Western Conference title in his second season as coach and reached the NFL title game for the first time since 1944.
Starr established himself as the starting quarterback while Hornung scored a record-breaking 176 points in 12 games to lead the league again. Fullback Jim Taylor ran for more than 1,000 yards for the first time in his career and eight Packers made the Pro Bowl.
The Packers clinched the Western Conference crown by winning their final three games by a combined score of 89-34 and all three were road games.
The Packers lost a postseason game for the only time ever under Lombardi, falling to the Philadelphia Eagles and Norm Van Brocklin 17-13 in the NFL title game. The Packers were rallying for the winning score but Chuck Bednarik, who played both center and linebacker for Philadelphia, stopped Taylor eight yards short of the end zone on the final play of the game.
- 1963 Record: 11-2-1
The 1963 Packers were an impressive bunch but because there were no wild cards back then, they failed to make the playoffs despite losing to only one team all season and ranking second in the league in both points scored and points against.
Starr was injured and couldn’t start four games one of which the Packers lost to the Bears who finished 11-1-2 as compared to the Packers 11-2-1.
The Packers were also without Hornung who was suspended by NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle for gambling on NFL games.
Eight players earned Pro Bowl honors, but the Packers finished second in the Western Conference after winning it three years in a row.
- 1967 Record: 9-4-1, Won Super Bowl II
While the 1967 Packers were an aging team that suffered a lot of injuries, they managed to win a third-straight NFL title after beating the Dallas Cowboys in the Ice Bowl. Starr’s quarterback sneak in the closing seconds is the most famous play in Packers history in the most dramatic and consequential win in the more than 100-year history of the franchise.
Hornung and Taylor were gone and Starr missed significant time due to injuries, but the Packers got off to a 9-2-1 start to clinch their division and then upset the Rams and Cowboys in the playoffs.
They then defeated the Oakland Raiders to win their third straight championship in what ended up being Lombardi’s final game as coach of the Packers.
Nine players made the Pro Bowl that year including Adderley, kicker Don Chandler, Willie Davis, Boyd Dowler, Forrest Gregg, Bob Jeter, Jerry Kramer, Dave Robinson and Willie Wood.
This team showed the toughness and character of Lombardi’s teams and although they were far from dominant, came through when it mattered most.
- 1965 Record: 10-3-1, Won NFL Championship
Lombardi’s team returned to its winning ways in 1965 although it wasn’t easy. After a 6-0 start, the Packers lost three of their next five games and were locked in a tight battle with the Baltimore Colts for the Western Conference crown.
The Packers seemed to have things under control when they crushed the Colts 42-27 in Baltimore in Week 13, but a tie in San Francisco in the regular-season finale forced a playoff game for the division crown.
The Packers needed overtime to do it but they beat the Colts 13-10 to advance to the NFL Championship Game. John Unitas and Gary Cuozzo were both injured so Don Shula had to start running back Tom Matte at quarterback. Matte ran the option in college. The Packers lost Bart Starr to an injury early in the game and Zeke Bratkowski came off the bench to lead the Pack to the win.
Don Chandler tied the game with a controversial field goal late in the fourth quarter and then won it in overtime. The Colts claimed the tying kick was no good and the following the year, the NFL made the uprights taller to prevent a repeat controversy.
The Packers then went on to beat Jim Brown and the Cleveland Browns 23-12 in the NFL title game. Hornung ran for 105 yards and a touchdown while Jim Taylor gained 96 more on the ground as the Packers beat the Browns on a muddy field in Green Bay.
- 1961 Record: 11-3-0, Won NFL Championship
The Packers won their first NFL title under Lombardi’s leadership in his third season. The Packers also added the now iconic “G” on the side of their helmets for the first time this year.
While the Packers were good in Lombardi’s first two seasons, in 1961 they became a dominant team. How good were the Packers? They finished first in the league in points scored, second in points allowed and sent eight players to the Pro Bowl.
After an opening week loss to the Lions, the Pack won their next six games by a combined score of 209-41.
The Packers hosted the NFL Championship Game in Green Bay for the first time ever. Before the game, Lombardi asked for help from President John F. Kennedy to get Paul Hornung a weekend pass from Army reserve duty. Hornung got his pass and the Packers went on to crush the New York Giants 37-0. Hornung ran for one touchdown, kicked three field goals and four extra points for a 19-point game.
The Packers defense was dominant, holding the Giants to just six first downs and 130 total net yards all game while causing five turnovers.
- 1966 Record: 12-2-0, Won Super Bowl I
The 1966 Packers are known as the team that won the first Super Bowl but they were also one of the most dominant teams in league history. They lost only two games all season by a total of four points. Bart Starr won the league MVP and enjoyed the best statistical season of his NFL career. The Packers defense allowed the fewest points in the league and allowed opponents to score an average of just 11.6-points per game.
The Packers beat the Cowboys 34-27 in the NFL title game at the Cotton Bowl. Starr threw for 304 yards and four touchdown passes. The Packers held on for the win in the closing seconds. The Cowboys had the ball on the Packers two yard line when Dave Robinson forced Don Meredith to rush his throw and Tom Brown intercepted in the end zone to clinch the win.
The Packers then went on to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in the first Super Bowl representing the NFL in the first ever meeting with the upstart AFL.
- 1962 Record: 13-1-0, Won NFL Championship
Lombardi’s most dominant team was the 1962 club that went an incredible 13-1 with their only loss coming on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit.
The Packers led the NFL in points scored and points allowed and had wins of 34-7, 49-0, 38-7, another 49-0 score and 41-10. The defense recorded three shutouts and held teams to less than 10 points seven times in 14 games.
Jim Taylor led the NFL in rushing with 1,474 yards in 14 games and he scored 19 rushing touchdowns while Willie Wood led the league with nine interceptions. Starr led the league with 2,438 passing yards.
The Packers faced the New York Giants for the second straight season in the NFL title game, this time at Yankee Stadium in New York. On a cold blustery day that featured 27 mph winds, the Packers shut down the Giants and defeated them 16-7. Ray Nitschke was the MVP of the game while Taylor ran 31 times on the frozen field for 85 yards and a touchdown. The Packers defense didn’t allow a score with the Giants only touchdown coming on special teams.
It was Lombardi’s second straight NFL title and the best team he coached in his nine seasons in Green Bay.
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